living between the koreas
Since the 1953 cease-fire, the DMZ has become something of an unintended nature reserve. The 154-mile-long borderland, once densely populated and farmed, was abandoned. Trees and grasslands replaced towns and crops. Not that the land is entirely unmolested. On one edge is the one-million-strong North Korean Army; on the other are 600,000 South Korean and 17,000 U.S. soldiers. Between them are tank traps, infiltration tunnels and as many as a million land mines. But species that were otherwise eliminated from the rest of the peninsula—the Asiatic black bear, for instance, or the Siberian musk deer—still lurk in the midst of all that poised firepower.